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Hilmar and Odette

Koch, Eric

8 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0771045573 / ISBN 13: 9780771045578
Published by McClelland & Stewart, 1995
Condition: As New Hardcover
From Northmont Books and Stamps (Farmington Hills., MI, U.S.A.)

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Hilmar and Odette

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

Publication Date: 1995

Binding: Half-Leather

Book Condition:As New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


Part detective story, part biography, this is the fascinating tale of Hilmar and Odette, both born illegitimately in Germany before the Second World War, both half-Jewish, both brought up by “Aryan” families.

Eric Koch, having discovered that his well-to-do family has two skeletons in the closet (Odette is his half-sister and Hilmar is his step-cousin), embarks on a search into his family history and into the very different fates of these two “Half-Jews” who grew into adults as the Nazi party came to power.

Hilmar’s adoptive mother discovers he is a Jew, and (despite his being a dutiful, even loving, son) when the opportunity arises denounces him to the Gestapo. Hilmar’s increasingly desperate attempts to escape deportation and stay with the woman with whom he has fallen in love prove futile. He finally falls victim to the machinery of oppression and is sent to Auschwitz.

By contrast, Odette, never suspecting that she is part-Jewish, ascends the social ladder and comes to hobnob with the Nazi bohème in her Berlin salon. To ingratiate himself with the right people, her publisher husband dreams up new forms of propaganda to help the Nazi cause.

Hilmar and Odette’s parallel stories advance in step through this book, each casting light on the other. And around the fringes of their lives move the spectres of Napoleon, Joseph Goebbels, and Lili Marleen. The narrator’s detective tale becomes a third story, as he probes his family’s past and explores the shadowy territory where personal uncertainties and frailties meet the implacable sophistry of Nazi ideology.

About the Author:

Eric Koch left Nazi Germany in 1935 at fifteen to go to school and later university in England. In 1940, when a German invasion of Britain seemed imminent, he was arrested and sent to Canada as a civilian internee together with over two thousand other refugees from Germany and Austria who were technically “enemy aliens.” At the end of 1941 he was released and resumed his studies at the University of Toronto. In December 1944 he joined the CBC to broadcast on shortwave to Germany. He stayed with the CBC for thirty-five years, holding various positions as a producer and administrator in radio and television.

Eric Koch is the author of numerous works of fiction and non-fiction, including The French Kiss, a novel about General de Gaulle’s visit in 1967 to Quebec, and Inside Seven Days, the story of the CBC’s “This Hour Has Seven Days.” He lives in Toronto.

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